6 Design principles for a thought leadership app

Hester Gras

Someone asked me a great question recently: “what are the essential elements for a good Thought Leadership App?” The coversation that followed turned into an interesting discussion. The idea that only some content needs a system is wrong. Like Facebook’s Content Strategist Tiffiani Jones Brown once mentioned, “It all fits within a design system. In fact, content strategy is about design. You need to ask questions such as ‘Who is the audience?’ and ‘What problems are we trying to solve?” – all of which are related to both content and user interface. A good content strategy is thus not only about content, it should also look at context and design.

In this post, we will look at 6 important principles for the context and design of a thought leadership app. These kinds of apps show publications, articles and blogs written by specialists on different subjects and industry trends. The apps have become a popular channel for companies that want to create an engaging dialogue with customers while gaining industry authority as resource-based advisors
(check out why you should choose a thought leadership app as your business strategy here).

Thought Leadership / Insights App App RABO KENNIS

Good design is good for business
Today’s readers don’t get convinced by advertising. Instead, they choose brands that provide helpful and high quality content. Design can be the persuasive factor here. A study by Jamy Li and Mark Chignell shows that readers are more attracted to authors they judge to be similar to themselves. Colors, layout, font, all these things say a lot about your personality and the type of person you want to attract.
At imgZine, we believe Insights Apps should have a clean, bright layout that matches a company’s business style, without too many interactive features.

Thought Leadership / Insights App App RABO KENNIS


Bring content down to size for mobile audiences
Content published for the web isn’t the same as content published for mobile devices. UX expert Laura Klein explains that mobile-optimized content needs to be instantly attention-grabbing, clean, focused and free from distractions. imgZine’s Insights Applications therefore show big headings, sub-headings and icons that help readers consume content as quickly as possible. Our Insights Apps also provide short article summaries which help users decide whether they want to read a complete article or not.

Get personal with followers
In this digital world, users want to be social. They will share and talk about a company’s content. Our Insights Apps don’t only have social media buttons for articles and reports
(for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail), but also show expert profiles in every report. That way, the company is presented in a transparent and personal way.


Typography is the voice of your content
It is important to leave the personality to the form. Choose a font that suits your design and be careful not to use fonts that are too small or narrow. Unreadable sizes will make your users leave the app. imgZine’s preferred font for the Insights Application is Sans Serif Light, because it fits our idea of a corporate, clean and organized app.

Thought Leadership / Insights App App ABN AMRO
It’s also important to consider screen size and formats. Type has never before been used in so many contexts and media, which makes it challenging to create a perfect font. For example, font sizes also change depending on tablet formats and retina screens (which have a higher resolution).

Photos: stock or custom?
Images are necessary to make your content easier to read and help to make your reports a little more visual. Stock photos fit tight budgets, they are available when you need them and are great for visually referencing your editorial content. However, it’s always better to create your own videos and photos. This will give readers a better feeling your company and will make your content unique.

The blog post chronology debate
A couple of years ago there was a discussion about the chronology of Google’s search engine. Google’s new search engine algorithms suggested that the most recent content on any given subject would be the most relevant. This meant that recent information would show up first in the search results. In reaction to this, many publishers decided to remove data in their posts. But is this what thought leaders should do?

Thought Leadership / Insights App App ABN AMROConsumers will ask your company for advice if they think you’re a trusted source. Because of this, you should show whether the knowledge you’re publishing is recent or not. On the other hand, dates are not always relevant. imgZine’s application, for example, shows articles based on users’ reading behavior. The app recommends relevant articles to users, even if they’re not the most recent. Another feature is the scraping and/or adding of relevant channels, which might consequently also show less recent articles. For instance, if a user decides to remove the ‘Economy’ channel and other channels don’t have that many articles, there will be less articles in his app.

But is this a bad development? Not necessarily. Thought leadership apps provide a reader with different perspectives. So the important thing is to let the user know if the content they’re reading is new or outdated. It’s the designer’s task to make this clear.

For more information about mobile thought leadership applications, you can click here to read our folder.

Would you add something to our list?
Feel free to share your thoughts!

Sign up for our newsletter

Error: Contact form not found.

Let's talk

We can demonstrate
the power and ease
of our platform.